Arthur Lee to Benjamin Franklin and John Adams
Chaillot Jany. 20th. [?]1 1779
My fever not being yet sufficiently removd to permit me to come to you; I write to you to submit the absolute necessity there is of informing the Minister without delay of the State of our Finances and that the Supply we have askd is immediately necessary. It is possible they may wait for such information before they put the intention we are told they have of supplying us in execution. We wrote them we shoud pay the Bills drawn by order of Congress as long as our funds lasted; and they will naturally expect to be advisd, when these are so nearly exhausted, as to demand a farther supply.2
I have the honor to be with great respect Gentlemen Yr. most Obedt. Humble Servt.
RC (PPAmP: Franklin Papers); docketed by William Temple Franklin: “Hon. A. Lee Jan 20. 1770.”
1. This date can be read as either the 20th or the 26th. It seems likely, however, that William Temple Franklin would have docketed the letter soon after it arrived. Moreover, Lee’s letter to Benjamin Franklin and JA of the 22d (below) indicates that he was already ill on the 20th. On the other hand, if the letter was of the 26th, it probably resulted from a conversation on that date between Lee and Abbé Raimondo Niccoli, secretary of the legation from Tuscany. According to Lee’s journal for the 26th, the minister advised “representing the condition of the United States as desperate, unless France would exert herself, especially in furnishing money” (R. H. Lee, Arthur Lee description begins Richard Henry Lee, Life of Arthur Lee, Boston, 1829; 2 vols. description ends , 1:407).
2. The Commissioners had written to Vergennes on 7 Dec. (above) concerning additional loans from the French government. No letter by the three Commissioners in response to this request by Lee has been found, and no further money was received from France until June, when a payment of 250,000 livres was made (Foreign Ledgers, Public Agents in Europe, 1776–1787, DNA:RG 39 [Microfilm], f. 107).